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Ewan Lindsay

Chalkstream Fest !
« on: July 03, 2013, 21:02:37 PM »
A major expedition down to Hampshire on the way back to work this trip.  I managed to get three days on the chalkstreams; one on the Dever, one on the Anton (both Test tributaries) and another day on the Nadder which flows into the Avon near Salisbury.  I couldn't get on the Test itself as it was weed cutting week.  All the rivers are upstream, dry fly only at this time of year.  Armed with my 8’ 4” 3wt, and sponsored by Ginsters and Marlboro, I sallied forth eagerly…
I have fished the River Dever at Bullington Manor several times before and it is always a joy; not another soul in sight all day and a beautiful clear chalkstream in lovely woodland with plenty of wily Brown Trout and a large head of large Grayling to stalk.

Bullington Manor, River Dever

This visit was no exception.  Summer had definitely arrived and the weather was hot and very humid but this did not deter the Trout who were tempted with small olive CDC emergers and sedge patterns.

Playing a feisty River Dever Brown Trout

And in the net!

I was on beat 4 and it is a particularly slow flowing and relatively deep (3-4 feet) beat which means the water is like glass making for very spooky fish.  Casting had to be very accurate and presentation perfect to even have a vague chance of rising a fish.  As usual, the trees and bushes seemed to be strategically placed to deliberately hamper you required back cast to deliver the fly under that branch where the big fella is lying.  More than a few flies were left dangling in the foliage I’m afraid!  The bank side reed growth makes a long-handled net essential too.

A long-handled net is essential

On some sections the reed growth is so wide that they have constructed small casting piers so that you can access tricky areas.

Despite appearances, I cannot walk on water!

Bullington Manor is a truly beautiful stretch of Chalkstream that always delivers.  I had a total of four good Brown Trout and a couple of small Grayling for the day.  The heat and humidity were brutal but a few pints in the Three Cups Inn at Stockbridge soon had me ready for the next day.

Bullington Manor River Dever

Another fine River Dever Brown Trout

Up and at ‘em early for the next day; a visit to the River Anton at Goodworth Clatford just South of Andover.  A lovely stretch of shallow chalkstream  with a bright gravel bed and plenty of ranunculus weed growth so important for the insect life.  This section of river was more varied than the Dever Beat and had several nice glides, riffled sections and deeper pools.

River Anton at Goodworth Clatford

River Anton at Goodworth Clatford

River Anton at Goodworth Clatford

The weather was still warm but less humid today and there were more overcast periods.  All of which added up to a promising day.  There was not much surface action though until lunchtime when a few sedges started to flit about.  Pretty soon I had my first Brown trout of the day to a twitched/skated sedge – that little bit of “abnormal” movement or drift that river fisherman usually dread was just what was required to induce a take.

River Anton Brown Trout
 My partner Sarah was fishing a river for the first time today too.  I was more nervous than she was.  Over the last year she has been coming with me to fish small stillwaters near Aberdeen and has had a casting lesson session with Ben.  Her presentation has always been good but distance has been a problem.  Fortunately, the Chalkstreams are so narrow that the lack of range in her casting wouldn’t matter too much.  I worried about how she would deal with water that was moving!

Sarah’s first outing on moving water!

I needn’t have worried, she was a natural and was soon delivering her fly with pin point accuracy to several fish that were feeding just downstream of a ranunculus bed.  She tempted several rises and missed a few takes before she was eventually rewarded with her first fish from a river; a nice little Grayling.

Sarah’s first fish on a river

A very pleased-with-herself Sarah!
In the early afternoon there was a small but steady hatch of Mayfly.  Very late in “normal” years but the locals had told me to be prepared to see a few in the early/mid afternoon as the hatch had been very late starting this year.  I had three more Brown Trout and two small Grayling to a Mayfly pattern before we called it a (thoroughly enjoyable) day.

A River Anton Brown Trout that fell for a Mayfly
My final day was alone on the River Nadder at a place called Compton Chamberlayne near Salisbury.  This is where Frank Sawyer used to fish apparently.  The beat I had been allocated started at a refurbished Mill House which is available to rent on a weekly basis.  There are seven beats on this estate and so you can fish a different one every day.

Dinton Mill, River Nadder
Anyway, my first impressions of the river were not good.  Not to put too fine a point on it; it looked like a stagnant ditch!  The water was barely flowing on my beat upstream of the mill pool and it looked deep, dark and murky.  My heart sank.  Where was crystal clear water, prolific weed growth and long sections of gravel beds?!  I decided to walk the full length of the beat in the hope that there would be shallower faster flowing sections further up the beat.  Nope.  All the same; very, very slow-flow deep and dark water.  Hmmmm.

River Nadder at Compton Chamberlayne

Slow water on the Nadder

As I walked back to the bottom of the beat to start fishing I noticed one or two small olives so I tied a CDC Olive Emerger on, took a deep breath and went for it.  For half an hour or so I was just prospecting as there were no rises or any interest in my fly at all.  Then, out of the Abyssal gloom, I saw a very large Brown Trout come and have look at my fly.  It was then that I realised that the water was not murky at all; it was clear but just deep and had no bright gravel bed to give any background contrast.  The trout was not fooled and refused the fly and I watched him dive down to his lie again.  It must have been 5-6 feet deep here.
This was encouraging but I could still not tempt any more rises.  So, when desperation calls, call in the big guns.  On went the Weapon Of Mass Destruction that is “Robjent’s Daddy Long Legs”.  Without a word of a lie, the Daddy had not landed on the water more than two seconds before there was a flash and splash and I was into my first fish of the day.  As I played the fish I realised that it was a Rainbow of about 3-4lbs.  Oh well -  it broke the duck and it backed up what Mr Robjent had told me in his shop the day before; that certain beats on the Itchen were considering banning his Daddy Long Legs as it was taking too many fish!
I carried on with the Daddy as I worked my way up the beat and was soon into my first Brownie of the day.  A cracking, beautifully marked specimen.  Really aggressive take too and a spirited fight.  This guy came from a long way off to take the fly too.

Nadder Brown Trout
Soon after, there were fish beginning to rise to an increasing hatch of olives and sedges.  There were even a couple of real Daddy’s being blown onto the water by a, slightly annoying, gusty wind.  It wasn’t long before another cracking Brown trout took the Daddy Long Legs with tremendous ferocity.

Another Daddy Long Legs success
The day was getting better and better.  I was beginning to see the fish moving in the water.   They were almost behaving like still water trout because of the slow flow.  They would move off station a long distance and for some time before returning to their lie.  Weird.
At lunchtime there was a hatch of Mayfly.  Much more than the previous day on the Anton.  Apparently, the Nadder (and Wylye nearby) routinely have Mayfly hatches into July.  This was great – I’ve never got to fish a proper Mayfly hatch and soon switched to a Mayfly pattern to make the most of it.  I had been told by one of the locals in Stockbridge that the trout on the Test this season had been very picky about which Mayfly pattern they took even in the most prolific of hatches; you couldn’t just chuck on any Mayfly pattern and make the most of “Duffers’ Fortnight”.  They were right.  I had to change Mayfly pattern three times before I found the one they were on.  A palmered version.  The biggest fish of the day all went for this Mayfly pattern in the afternoon with even more ferocity than the Daddy if that seems possible.  Great sport.

Mayfly Brownie

Another to the Mayfly

The Hatch died off early evening and I must admit I lost count of how many fish I caught.  My camera battery even ran out!  A great day which just went to prove that you should never judge a book by it’s cover.  I wouldn’t hesitate to return to the River Nadder.

River Nadder


Mike Barrio

Re: Chalkstream Fest !
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2013, 21:18:05 PM »
Awesome Ewan :z16

Lovely photos ...... and what a great read :cool: Great to see Sarah joining in the fun too!

Thanks for sharing them with us!
Best wishes
Mike   At the heart of your fishing ..... lies a great fly line!


Re: Chalkstream Fest !
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2013, 00:48:20 AM »
Very entertaining Ewan  :z16

Great photos too


Jim Eddie

Re: Chalkstream Fest !
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2013, 08:37:13 AM »
As above great report and photo's, thanks for sharing  :z16


"Because in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing what they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion."


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